Congress, corroded by extremists generated and protected by exquisitely gerrymandered districts, has become dysfunctional, to the point of enacting conflicting statutes. One set of statutes requires expenditures; another statute forbids adequate funding for those expenditures.
The likelihood that the average American understands the relevant issues, history or logistics resembles the chance that Ashley Harlan Roethlisberger will not soon hear her new husband end a quarrel with "Well, what the hell did you expect?", but this ignorance has not prevented a strident public debate -- focused on dogma rather than solution.
Military expenditures have been ignored by that debate, confirming the disassociation from substance. The United States confronts several threats, but they are almost entirely self-inflicted. We blundered into Iraq and drifted in Afghanistan, stressing our military and our economy senselessly. Our struggling economy is taunted by rating agencies not because foreign creditors are holding a gun to our head but instead because we are playing Russian roulette with credit markets. Our most important foreign policy problems derive from not from menacing foreign powers but rather from our decades-long failure to address wasteful dependence on imported petroleum.
We will know someone is serious about solving our nation's problems when military spending (and policy -- how many American soldiers must be in Germany or Japan to provide adequate defense for the United States?) becomes part of the discussion.
Until then, politicians will look to the fringes of declining political parties for inspiration, while reasonable Americans look to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and The Onion for news and insight.
Infytune: Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Infytune: Who'll Stop The Rain, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band